Immigrant Youth Movement Leader Julieta Garibay Receives 2015 American Express NGen Leadership Award

(WASHINGTON, July 15, 2015) — Independent Sector is proud to name Julieta Garibay, campaigns director of United We Dream, as the 2015 recipient of the American Express NGen Leadership Award. Garibay is a transformational leader working to address inequality and barriers to opportunity for immigrant youth and to provide advocacy and support for young immigrants facing pressing issues such as deportations and family separation, as well as systemic issues including access to higher education.

“Once again, this year’s NGen Leadership Award recipient represents one of the finest emerging leaders in the charitable sector, who is taking on crucial issues in surprising and innovative ways,” said Timothy J. McClimon, president of the American Express Foundation, which sponsors the award. “American Express is proud to recognize and assist in the development of nonprofit and social sector leaders like Julieta to help them tackle important issues in their communities.”

Garibay migrated to the U.S. at the age of 12 from Mexico City with her mother and sister. For 20 years, she lived in Texas as an undocumented immigrant, before moving to Washington, D.C. She holds a Master’s degree of Science in Public Health and a Bachelor’s degree in Nursing from the University of Texas. Garibay has dedicated the last 10 years of her life to the fight for justice and dignity for the undocumented community.

“Julieta has displayed not only an extraordinary dedication to her cause—she’s also shown extraordinary courage,” said Diana Aviv, president and CEO of Independent Sector. “Ten years ago, when Julieta first became an advocate for immigrant youth, she and her friends bravely stood up and advocated for themselves and their cause at a time when merely doing so may have jeopardized their education or even presence in this country. Their work is not at all finished, but it is remarkable to think what Julieta has accomplished, all without the support of the movement she would help to build.”

In 2005, she co-founded the University Leadership Initiative (ULI) at the University of Texas- Austin, one of the first undocumented youth-led organizations in the nation. She was also a founding board member of United We Dream, the first and largest immigrant youth-led organization in the nation, serving in multiple other roles in the network on top of her advocacy role.

“I am humbled to receive the 2015 NGen Leadership Award,” said Garibay. “For me, this award celebrates the courage of undocumented communities who have risked it all for a life with dignity and rights. This is a wonderful platform for me to continue uplifting the stories, struggles, and vision of the undocumented community living in the U.S., and engaging intersectional leaders to fight for justice and win.”

Leaders in the immigrant rights community and government applauded Garibay’s recognition as this year’s 2015 American Express NGen Leadership Awardee.

“Over the past decade Julieta has been an inspiration for immigrant youth, women, and the immigrant rights movement,” said Cristina Jiménez, co-founder and managing director of the United We Dream Network. “Julieta’s courage and leadership as a pioneer of the immigrant youth movement and co-founder of United We Dream has been instrumental in the victories that we have achieved and shifting the narrative to one focused on our stories and our community’s humanity. Most of all, Julieta is a fearless woman and tells it like it is. I know that with Julieta’s heart, courage, sophisticated knowledge of organizing, and strategic thinking, our movement will achieve justice and dignity for all immigrants.”

Marielena Hincapié, executive director of the National Immigration Law Center, also congratulated Garibay. “As one of the first immigrant youth leading the fight immigrant justice over a decade ago, Julieta has been instrumental in bringing about transformative change in our country,” Hincapié said. “Our country is a better place because Julieta is guided by her sense of purpose that is shaping the future of our country, while also inspiring younger activists to take on the challenges of social justice.”

“It is a pleasure to congratulate Ms. Julieta Garibay on this outstanding achievement,” said Rep. Marc Veasey, a Democrat of Texas, in a statement. “She is a tireless advocate for the immigrant community and I was proud to have Ms. Garibay as my first State of the Union guest. I applaud her continued efforts to ensure the undocumented community is not left in the shadows and that their voices continue to be heard nationwide.”

Independent Sector’s American Express NGen Leadership Award recognizes one accomplished nonprofit or philanthropic leader age 40 or under who has already demonstrated significant impact in addressing society’s critical needs. Julieta will receive the award during the John W. Gardner Leadership Luncheon, October 29, 2015, at the Independent Sector Conference in Miami.

Garibay was selected from a pool of five distinguished finalists including:

• John Kim, executive director, California office, The Advancement Project
• Kirsten Lodal, co-founder and CEO, LIFT
• Heather McGhee, president, Demos
• Carrie Rich, CEO and co-founder, The Global Good Fund

Applications for the American Express NGen Leadership Award were evaluated by a selection committee of nonprofit and philanthropic leaders. The finalists submitted answers to essay questions and participated in a Twitter Town Hall to share their views on leadership, impact, and the opportunities and challenges within the sector. American Express is also the lead sponsor of the American Express NGen Fellows Program, which contributes to the development of emerging nonprofit leaders through their Foundation’s philanthropic giving initiative committed to leadership.


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Independent Sector is the leadership forum for nonprofits, foundations, and corporations whose member networks collectively represent tens of thousands of organizations locally, nationally, and globally. Learn more at

About American Express
American Express is a global services company, providing customers with access to products, insights and experiences that enrich lives and build business success.

American Express: Developing New Leaders for Tomorrow
One of American Express’ three platforms for its philanthropy is Developing New Leaders for Tomorrow. Under this giving initiative, which recognizes the significance of strong leadership in the nonprofit and social sectors, American Express is making grants focused on training high potential emerging leaders to tackle important issues in the 21st century. More than 15,000 emerging nonprofit and social sector leaders worldwide have benefitted from American Express leadership programs. Launched in 2008, the American Express Leadership Academy addresses the growing deficit of leadership talent in the nonprofit sector. The Academy brings together emerging leaders from a diverse set of nonprofit, social sector and non-governmental organizations.

Types: Press Release
Global Topics: Civil Rights, IS Member, Leadership Development, Public Policy, Race, Equity, and Inclusion